The clinic’s waiting room was empty except for a front desk workstation, never-been-used seating for 18, a television playing an old episode of Man vs. Food, and the vague smell of drying paint.
“It’s kind of like that new car smell,” said Lisa Graham, the customer service representative working the front desk.
Graham was referring to the smell—and more importantly the look—of the new 2,600-square-foot Primary Health Urgent Care Clinic, which swung its doors open July 16. But nearing the end of its grand opening, by 6 p.m., only about 10 patients had walked through the door.
“It takes a little bit of time to develop a clientele,” Graham said.
Primary Health Medical Group chose to open its $1.3 million clinic on 300 W. Myrtle St. in downtown Boise, the first new clinic in its network in several years. Primary Health operates nine other clinics in the Treasure Valley.
The new clinic has facilities on par with other Primary Health clinics, and provides medical services through two divisions: urgent care and appointment-based family practice medicine. In all, the new downtown facility will employ three doctors and 15 support staff.
The aim is to provide services to the downtown market and reduce pressure on the nearest Boise clinic on Broadway Avenue.
“Because of the strains of the economy, there’s been an increasing demand for our services,” said Primary Health founder Dr. David Peterman.
Demand for medical services comes from the still-struggling economy’s beneficiaries. The clinic is located within blocks of the courthouse, law firms, banks, and Boise’s downtown business district.
“The advantage is, if a person works in the banks or law offices or the courts and they have an acute illness, they can just walk in and be seen without an appointment,” said Peterman.
The clinic will also serve some of the economy’s victims: Several homeless shelters will be in the clinic’s service area, and a portion of its patients will be Medicaid recipients and the uninsured, though Peterman declined to say how many such patients the new clinic can expect.
“We’re not just catering to bankers and lawyers. We’re catering to everybody downtown,” he said.
Primary Health serves 7,000 Medicaid patients in Ada and Canyon counties, and Peterman said it’s one of the only private medical groups currently signing up patients using that health care program, which is jointly managed by federal and state governments.
“We’re comfortable with serving that at-need population,” he said.
As with all Primary Health facilities, the new clinic uses electronic patient files to ensure continuity of medical care and improve the portability of patient information. In 2007, Primary Health began implementation of an electronic health record program at a cost of $1 million.
“It was a pretty bold decision,” said Peterman.
At the time, some argued that electronic health records posed risks to patient privacy. Today, such records are becoming more commonplace as security for electronic files improves.
“It turns out, if you do it right—if you put in the money—it’s more secure than paper,” Peterman said.